If this is your first time attending a BSI Congress, or any meeting of its size, these useful tips will help you get the most out of your time at Congress.
Preparation is key
Review the programme in detail before Congress starts and download the Congress App to make it easier to organise your time. This will help you prioritise attending those sessions which are most relevant and interesting to you. You may want to attend presentations in different concurrent sessions. Coming prepared to Congress will enable you to maximise your time and move swiftly between session rooms and presentations.
If attending in order to give an oral or poster presentation, practice makes perfect. A good idea is to present to your supervisor or other students and group members and ask for feedback and questions so you can prepare for likely discussions. We also recommend you bring A4 printouts of your poster and include your contact details for people who are interested in your research – you might meet a potential collaborator.
Preparing an ‘elevator pitch’ can also be helpful. Memorise a succinct and engaging description of your career and research that you can use when meeting new people. And be sure to update your LinkedIn profile so that anyone you meet can connect with you easily.
Get inspired at Bright Sparks
Always a highlight for many delegates is the Bright Sparks in Immunology sessions, scheduled before the Congress opening session. Delegate registration opens at 11:00 on Monday with Bright Sparks starting at 12:30. We recommend you arrive in plenty of time to register and take your seat to attend these popular sessions and hear presentations from PhD students and postdocs, selected for their top scoring abstracts.
The Bright Sparks prizes recognise outstanding research and communication skills. Come along to support your fellow early-career researchers and hear some inspiring talks to kick-start the week. Prizes will be awarded after the career-focused session by Olivera Finn which follows the Bright Sparks talks.
Network, network, network – and remember to pace yourself
Conferences are all about seizing opportunities to interact with others in your field who you wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet. There will be over 1,200 immunologists in one venue – take advantage! Effective networking can broaden your knowledge, strengthen your career and increase the impact of your research.
The Congress social programme offers additional networking opportunities. Attend the social activities and talk to people you don’t know. Conversations started whilst waiting in a queue can lead to new partnerships, exchanging of skills or resources and even job offers.
Congress is busy and can feel overwhelming at times so remember you can’t do and see everything. Schedule in a few breaks and get some fresh air. Taking time out to recharge will mean you can successfully network and engage fully with the sessions that are most important to you. A good pair of walking shoes is also a must. There will be lots of ground to cover and you’ll want stay fit for dancing to the IMMposters at the Congress Party.
Don’t miss the poster sessions
Poster sessions are an opportunity to mingle and connect with fellow immunologists. Note down poster numbers you want to see and hunt them out. There will be a lot of posters so looking at the programme beforehand will save you time. Poster sessions are perfect for connecting with researchers and discussing immunology. You might come across a new method or model that could be valuable to your own work. Odd numbered posters will be presented in the Tuesday poster session, with even numbered posters on Wednesday.
Attend the lunchtime industry satellite symposia
Learn about innovative research at these lunchtime sessions. Delivered by industry partners and presented by guest speakers, these sessions could be advantageous to your research. Information on the sessions can be found in the programme. To facilitate your attendance and ensure you can refuel for the afternoon session, “grab and go” lunches will be available near the symposium session room.
Visit the exhibition
Visit participating exhibitors located in the main exhibition hall and find out more about their services. Interact with the exhibitors and spend some time learning about their products. Not only will you get up to date on new innovations but, if you pick up a “passport for prizes” at registration, you will also have the chance of winning quality prizes if you answer the passport questions correctly.
At the end of the conference, drop your completed passport back to the BSI stand to be entered into the prize draw. Christmas might just come early!
Get involved with BSI activities
The BSI exhibition stand is a main hub for you to meet BSI staff and find out more about our work. Come and say hello and discover how we support our members. The BSI also has many activities throughout Congress. These offer a chance for delegates to branch out beyond the main scientific programme and explore something new and discover the benefits of being a BSI member.
Enjoy a continental breakfast on Tuesday morning whilst networking with fellow postdocs and get top tips on how to transition to independence. Similarly, there is opportunity on Wednesday morning for those working in autoimmunity to meet each other.
Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtimes offer a chance to be inspired by public engagement activities from BSI members. Drop by Stand 39 in the Exhibition Hall to get expert advice and guidance from your peers on how to engage audiences with immunology.
You can meet representatives from funding organisations during the lunchtime session on Tuesday and gain insight into what funders are looking for and how to write a winning proposal.
The BSI AGM will follow the afternoon plenary session on Tuesday. Come along to hear about our work and activities in the past year. Our BSI Trustees and Committee members will be at the BSI exhibition stand following the AGM to answer your questions. It’s an opportunity to find out how you can get directly involved. Similarly, representatives from our Regional and Affinity Groups will be available on Wednesday during the Poster Session. They will be based at signposted tables in the Exhibition Hall where you will have the chance to discuss their local work and connect with those communities.
On Wednesday lunch there’s an opportunity to meet the editors of our two journals and hear advice on best practice when writing and submitting your manuscript for publication.
With lots going on, make sure to check the programme regularly for any programme or event updates.
Remember to download the Congress App and follow us on Twitter, using the #BSI19 hashtag to let us know how you’ll be getting involved! And connect with BSI staff at the BSI stand if you have any questions.
We look forward to welcoming all delegates to Congress.